UK Operator Orange Becomes Exclusive Cliq/Dext/Blur Android Carrier

UK carrier Orange (France Telecom) is to be the exclusive carrier of the new Motorola Dext (the Cliq in the US) avec Motoblur. Reportedly the carrier will offer the device for free provided that users sign up for a two-year contract at £34.26 ($55.67) per month.

I don't know the plan details (how many minutes, how much data) but that's considerably cheaper than most smartphone plans in the US. Plus the phone is free, which is currently unheard of for a smartphone in America (although they're getting more aggressively subsidized in the US). 

The Dext should be a hit for Orange, which has lost buzz to rival O2 (owned by Telefonica). O2 has been the iPhone carrier in the UK. But the rumor is now that Orange is going to get the iPhone relatively soon.

Mobile phones constitute the top search subcategory in the consumer-electronics segment in the UK. And within mobile, the iPhone far outstrips other search queries (per Hitwise):

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Here are some additional facts about the UK mobile market (per Ofcom): 

  • 77 million mobile subscriptions in the UK, more than one per person
  • Users on contracts: 30 million in 2008. Pay as you go fell to just under 47 million
  • More than 80 billion texts in 2008: 100 texts per person, per month
  • Consumers made 100+ billion minutes of calls in 2008, 123 minutes, per mobile, per month
  • Mobile-only: 12% of UK HH. Compare US: 17%

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Related: Motorola is in talks with other US carriers to sell the Cliq (currently T-Mobile is the exclusive provider). And the new Android SDK (1.6) offers "support for CDMA and additional screen sizes."